Por Siempre la Moto
I recently took a short four day trip to Vancouver. I’m actually still in Vancouver right now because I just missed my flight and am waiting for the next flight at a pub. Luckily I was able to get onto a flight about 2 hours later than the original one.
Anyway, a couple days ago, before I ended up here, I was walking around and exploring the city when I noticed a motorcycle on the sidewalk and something on the ground in front of it. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but quickly noticed that it was a map of the world and a bunch of pictures. Ok, they got me! I was interested. I stopped and took a closer look to allow my mind to process exactly what it was that I was seeing. There were tons of pictures on the ground surrounding the world map. It turns out that the family had been travelling around the world on the motorcycle since 2002. It was originally the man, his wife and their dog, but the dog had sadly passed away and they now had a young child that came along with them. I was super intrigued by everything I was seeing and had tons of questions, so I waited until he finished talking to the Latino gentleman next to me and began talking to him. He responded in the most argentine accent that I’d heard in a while. We talked for a bit and he told me a few of his travel stories and also about some of the experiences he’d had along the way too.
You could feel the passion radiating off of this man. It was beautiful. Not many things are more beautiful than somebody’s true and authentic passion for something. That passion carried over onto me and inspired me. This man didn’t seem rich, in fact they were selling hand made crafts to help fund their travels. Despite this, they were still doing it. The passion pushed them to push through hardships in order to achieve their dreams and to live their passions. At some point in the conversation, he asked me where I was from and where I’d learned Spanish. I told him about how I was originally from Ontario, but was exploring the west and also how I’d learned Spanish mostly playing computer games with Mexican people when I was younger. He was shocked and asked me if I spoke other languages.
**I never bring this up myself anymore unless people ask because I feel like it leads to what I consider “undue praise” and people thinking I’m some kind of genius despite the fact that there are many people who speak more languages than me and the fact that anyone can do it with the correct method.**
I told him that I spoke ten languages and he was really surprised. He compared my passion for languages to his passion for travel which I thought was really cool.
We talked about quite a bit more during this whole interaction and I was so moved and touched by the end that I could feel myself getting close to tearing up a bit. My heart was beating super fast too.
I overheard the man ask his wife if she recalled seeing a Tim Hortons nearby. She didn’t recall, so he asked me and I checked apple maps and found one that was about a 9 minute walk from where we were. I overheard him saying that he’d be right back because he was going to get some coffee. I offered to just go and get it for them as a thank you for the inspirational and potentially life altering conversation that we had just had. He agreed and I made my way to Tim Hortons, grabbed them their drinks and threw in a small box of Timbits as an extra Canadian thank you. I brought them back, shook the man’s hand and donated and extra 20 dollars to their travels. He seemed super moved by this and shook my hand. I told him how it was the least I could do after he and his family had inspired me so much and then I made my way back to my hostel. I’ve had a few other people come into my life and make similar impacts like this in the past, so I decided to compile a few of them and write them into a blog post. Thank you, Vancouver! Once again, travel has cured my writers block!
The Grocery Store
It was a hot summers day in 2013. I had just printed a resume and was heading over to the nearby grocery store to drop it off and hopefully get a new job. I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted a job that would give me more than one shift a week. It had been a long and depressing summer because I’d gotten injured earlier that year at my first ever job as a dishwasher when a coworker and I went out to take out the garbage and my coworker pulled the wrong chain when opening the big garage door causing it to fall on me and injure me. It was my first job and I didn’t really know my workers rights at the time and also assumed that the injury would go away despite the tremendous amount of pain I was in, so I didn’t report it to work until later. Yes, yes, I learned after the predicament that an injury must be reported immediately, but I didn’t know any of that at the time. It didn’t go away, it got worse and worse, so I reported it to work and we eventually opened up a WSIB claim. Everything got worse as I continued to work while we waited and it got to a point where it was unbearable and I couldn’t move my neck or left side for a couple of days. I wasn’t able to keep dishwashing because of the injury and the clinic told me to ask to be put on light duties, so I was put on a different position. The new position didn’t hurt as much, but the managers got more and more mad as time went on and the injury didn’t heal. One of them literally told me that “It should have healed by now” and no he wasn’t a doctor. I know it sounds like I’m throwing shade when ever I talk about this experience, but I don’t mean to. Although it still does anger me when I let myself think about it for too long, it’s an integral part of this story. Anyway, after my injury didn’t heal as fast as they wanted, they moved me to weird jobs such as wiping down the sealing in everyone’s way. It literally made no sense, especially when the restaurant was busy. I’d also never seen anyone do those jobs before. They eventually put me on cutlery rolling duty for entire shifts. I’d come in and roll cutlery for 4 hours every Saturday. I was almost certain that they were trying to make me quit on my own to make, me, “the problem” just go away, but I wanted to stay until WSIB had come to their conclusion, so that nothing shady could happen behind my back.
Despite wanting to wait, I did still need money and the one embarrassing cutlery rolling shift per week wasn’t covering my expenses, so I decided to try and find a secondary job that wouldn’t aggravate the injury. My self confidence was super low and I felt so depressed and defeated, but a grocery store seemed like a great place because I assumed that I could probably avoid positions that would require a lot of heavy lifting.
That takes us back to that fateful day. My friend at the time had told me about a job opening at the grocery store he worked at. I went in and he had me talk to his Jamaican coworker. I assume he was probably the supervisor, but I can’t remember anymore. Anyway, he and I sat down and began talking. He asked to see my resume and I gave it to him and he began looking over it. I already felt broken, hopeless and scared. I was still experimenting with anxiety aversion techniques and was still very afraid of leaving my comfort zone and getting rejected at this time, so this was all still very daunting. He slowly went through my resume and my heart was pounding, when suddenly he stopped. “You speak all those languages?!” He asked. “Yes” I responded. He was shocked. “You speak all these languages and you want to work here?” He asked. “Yes”, I responded once again. “Where are you working right now again?” “I’m a dishwasher at a restaurant” I responded. “Absolutely ridiculous. You’re wasting your talent!”. He said to me in an almost fatherly tone.
Ok, wait wait wait, before anybody says this man was out of line, bare with me!
We continued to talk and he continued to reiterate the fact that he thought it was ridiculous that I worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher when I spoke “so many” languages. He told me that I shouldn’t even be applying at the grocery store and that I should be aiming a lot higher. He told me about some of the mistakes he’d made in his own life and how he had the chance to aim high a few times and didn’t and was now stuck at a grocery store as a result of all of it. I don’t know how or why his words had such a powerful impact on me, but they somehow did. Despite my injury and lack of self confidence, I was believing and feeling every single word he said. He made me actually believe that I could aim higher and that the injury would NOT define me. I got really quiet toward the end because I was literally on the brink of crying. Not many things make me cry, but that had me close. It wasn’t an “I’m offended” cry, it was a “You completely raised my self esteem and motivated me to do more and to have more faith in myself” cry. I shook his hand after we were done talking and I remember rushing to the car and just sitting there while staring into nothingness and fighting the urge to burst out crying. I’m not religious at all, but it almost seems divine how I happened to have had that conversation with that man that summer when I most needed to hear it. I don’t think that man will ever know how much that short interaction impacted my life, but it had a tremendous impact on me.
Facebook may have saved a life!
I was going through facebook one day. This was around 2015, so Facebook was still more on the popular side. I noticed that a guy I’d gone to high school with had posted a facebook status that had some mildly suicidal implications to it. At least that’s what my first thought was upon reading it. Although I was privileged enough not to have dealt with suicidal feelings before, I knew how it felt to feel alone even when around people and also how depression and anxiety can really cloud your vision. I sent him a message and we started talking. I tried to get to the bottom of why he was feeling the way he was feeling and if there was a way that we could somehow dig him out of the hole he felt like he was in. It was really hard to communicate about such a complicated topic over facebook messages, so I gave him my number and told him to call me. we talked on the phone for nearly and hour and I tried to better understand how he was feeling and told him about some of the things that I do to help combat anxiety and depression. Interestingly enough, one of the techniques that I would consider common sense and trivial is the one that he said helped him.
This is exactly why I believe that we can learn from anyone. There have been many times where somebody else’s “Common sense” and or “Trivial knowledge” have led to me having epiphanies!
Anyway, I was glad to have been able to help and told him to call me if he ever needed to talk to anyone again. A couple days or weeks later, I got a long text from him where he thanked me for taking the time out of my day to help him when some of his “Real friends” as he put it, didn’t even really bother checking up on him. He thanked me again and said that he was really touched and that we could say that I was one of the reasons that he was still alive. I honestly was so taken aback by that text that I couldn’t respond right away. I was speechless and didn’t even know what to say, so I told him that I was happy that I could help, but that I wanted something in return; I wanted him to pass on the favour to anyone else that he saw in a similar situation to the one that he was in. (Ps, I asked him if he was ok with me sharing all this before hand and he said it was fine. I always respect people’s privacy)
I’m a firm believer in the ripple effect; If you help one person, that person may help two people, who may help 7, who may help 10 and the ripples of positivity and humanity will continue to multiply.
I didn’t want any praise and I didn’t really care if I got a thanks or not, I just wanted to help someone who seemed like they were in need. This interaction had a tremendously profound impact on me. I had never really thought that my words could keep someone alive before. I don’t think he knows how much that interaction inspired me to continue to at least try to spread positivity and to help people who are going through similar things. More people have since reached out to me and although I don’t always have the solution, I feel like its better to at least try than to leave that person feeling alone.
A Breakfast at a hostel in Amsterdam
It was a chilly day in March 2018 and I had made it to Amsterdam. My Euro trip was FINALLY beginning after being stranded in Ireland for a couple days. A lot was riding on this trip and I was feeling very lost in life again. I was really starting to think about whether or not my decision to not go to university right after high school had been the right decision. I’d be 28 by the time I graduated if I decided to actually go through with going to school after returning from Europe and that scared me.
I had met two fellow Canadians from Vancouver the night before because we were sharing the same room in the hostel. I sat down with one of them to have breakfast while the other one showered the following day. We started talking. We covered a lot of different topics and one of them was school. I didn’t wake up expecting to have my perspective changed so profoundly, but that’s what ended up happening. I was still 24 at the time and the guy I was sitting with was 26. He told me about how he felt the same pressures and everything about going to school. He also said that he had also felt like it was too late, but he still went and said it wasn’t that bad. Hearing that come from somebody who was older than me was oddly consoling. Many people say that it’s small things that make big differences. That short conversation made a huge difference and actually made me feel a lot more hopeful and positive about the direction the trip would end up going in and the future in general.
A Bunk Bed in Barcelona
I was sitting in my hostel room in Barcelona talking to my two roommates. One was from the Italian part of Switzerland and the other was from California. We were all getting to know each other and everyone’s respective story, when we landed on the topic of school. Oh, how I hated that topic. “Where did you go to school and what did you go for?” The Californian girl asked. I find that people always react in weird ways when you tell them that you haven’t gone to school… especially at 24. The Swiss girl also looked a bit uncomfortable. “I haven’t gone to school yet” The Swiss girl responded before I could formulate a response. “Wait, wait, wait, you never went to school?” I asked, surprised. I could see in her face that she was about to get slightly defensive. She reacted the same way I find myself reacting when I get asked that same question. I explained that the reason I was so surprised was because I didn’t really know very many other people at the age of 24 who still hadn’t gone to school. What she said after was common sense, but once again, hearing it from someone else really made a light bulb go off. “It has to come from you” She said. “Everyone can try and push you to go to school and to go into certain programs, but if you’re doing it because somebody else is forcing you to, and it’s not coming from you and your own wants and desires, then it won’t feel right”. As much as I subconsciously knew that that was the reason that I hadn’t gone to school the whole time, hearing it come from somebody the exact same age as me once again made a lightbulb go off in my brain. It all made sense! My reasoning for not going to school was solely because it didn’t feel authentic or true to who I was at the time.
You never really know where inspiration will come from!
We can never really predict who and what will inspire us. You may strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus and figure out why your last relationship failed. You may bump into somebody while turning a corner too quickly and walk away from it with a new job as a result of the ensuing conversation. You literally never know what that stranger can bring to your life! Inspiration, motivation and epiphanies are everywhere, but we have to leave our comfort circles and push ourselves to interact with people in order to learn from them. Although many other people have led me to epiphanies, realizations and inspiration, the ones listed above all required me to take some form of action in order to talk to these people. There will be times in life when people will literally just walk up to you and inspire you. It does happen, but you’ll meet way more inspirational people if YOU put yourself out there. I firmly believe that you can learn from ANYONE. Absolutely EVERYONE is capable of teaching you at least one knew thing. It may be something bad or it may be something good, you still end up learning either way!
The people mentioned in these stories taught me a lot and brought me to some very important realizations. They also inspired me. For that I must thank them! Many other people have inspired and motivated me throughout my life. Family, friends and many other people to say the least. I couldn’t possibly write about every instance or experience!
So I’d like to thank everyone who reads these and I hope that at least something you come across on my blog can have even a fraction of the positive impact that the people mentioned above have had on me!
Get out there and push your boundaries!